Jamie Roberts celebrated winning his 50th cap for Wales by claiming his first win in Paris as he helped to steer his side to a stunning 16-6 victory that ended a run of eight straight defeats.
The 2009 British & Irish Lions centre broke down in tears after the game as he described how Wales had managed to secure their first win at Stade de France since 2005 with a 72 minute try by wing George North.
“We have come in for a lot of stick over the last year, a lot of it warranted. So, to come out here and win against a good French team was fantastic,” said Roberts.
“The passion we showed in the shirt, especially in defence was fantastic. There are a lot of things that go into a game of rugby and one of them lacking last week (against Ireland) was passion.
“We quite rightly came in for a lot of stick last week because it wasn’t good enough. But the effort we showed today to get off the line and defend was hugely important.
“We’ll analyse this game, and there will be things to work on, but we got the result we needed and this is a great place to win.”
The game was locked at 3-3 at the interval and then at 6-6 for much of the second half before a moment of combined magic between Dan Biggar, with a delicate chip over the defence for George North to run on to, and then a brilliant piece of finishing from the big winger, brought Wales the only try of the game after 72 minutes.
Man of the match Leigh Halfpenny struck home a magnificent touchline conversion to give Wales a seven point lead and then added a 49 metre penalty to stretch the gap three minutes later. It was a second successive defeat for the French, who were booed off the field by an irate Stade de France crowd.
France have to travel to face England in the next round, while Wales continue their travels on the road in rounds three and four when they head to Italy and Scotland. After this win, though, they will travel with renewed confidence and hope of mounting a meaningful challenge to retain their title.
Wales coach Rob Howley made only three changes to his side from the home defeat to Ireland, but the introduction of fit again Ryan Jones in the back row made a major difference. Not only that, but he led the side superbly in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton.
“This is special coming on the back of where we’ve been. The character the players showed was unbelievable,” said Jones at the end of his 30th game as captain.
“It was by no means a flawless display but the character we showed was fantastic. We knew that a lot of our errors last week were of our own making.
“We had to come here and front up and put things right. The players who had been here before and knew what was needed really stood up to be counted. We will hopefully kick on from here now that we’ve got the monkey off our backs.”